“I would like to thank the AIRA team for creating a learning space to share our Indigenous Methodologies. It is a one of a kind experience. You have shared terminology to fit what my heart and mind were trying to say in my academic journey. I come home wanting to be there again. Immediately.” — Marsha F. Small, Northern Cheyenne, Masters Candidate in Native American Studies at Montana State Bozeman.
More than 200 participants from 58 Indigenous nations celebrated the 2014 Meeting of the American Indigenous Research Association this October 10-11 at Salish Kootenai College. Nearly half of the people attending were graduate and undergraduate Indigenous students in university programs of the social and natural sciences. People came to Montana from 21 states and also from the countries of Canada, China, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, and Thailand. Tribes and Indigenous nations represented among the attendees included Aleut, Algonquin, Anishinaabe, Aoteoroa, Arikara, Assiniboine, Bashchiile-Apsaalooke, Bigstone Cree, Bitterroot Salish, Confederated Salish, Blackfeet, Blood, Cherokee, Chippewa, Choctaw, Coeur d’Alene, Colville Confederated Tribes, Cowichan, Cree, Crow, Dine’ or Navajo, Gros Ventre, Hawaiian, Hidatsa, K’iche’Maya, Kanaka, Maoli, Luiseno, Lummi, Maidu, Mandan, Nakoda, Natchez-Mvskoke, Native Samoan, Nez Perce or NiMiiPuu, Nga Puhi, Ngati Ruanui, Northern Cheyenne or Tsististas, Nulhegan Abenaki, Mi’kmaq, Okanagan Nation, Oneida, Orutsararmiut, Pend d’Oreille, Piyute, Rosebud Sioux, Saami, Salish & Kootenai, Shawnee, Shoshone-Bannock, Spokane Tribe, Te Atiawa, Tlingit, Tohono O’odham, Tongan, White Mountain Apache, Yaqui, and Yupik Inuit.
Ryan Heavy Head and Narcisse Blood teamed up to lead off with a discussion of their Learning From Place project at Red Crow Community College on the Kainai Nation reserve in Southern Alberta. They demonstrated that looking at nature – and also human records of nature — through a specifically place-based Indigenous lens allows powerful new levels of knowledge and learning to emerge. And in showing us this, they set a standard for the rest of the meeting.
The wildly popular Ku Kahakalau taught us the importance of Native Hawai’ian proverbs and their importance to the basic methods and principles of Indigenous research, and then led a round-table discussion on language to boot! “Superman” Ed Galindo led another round-table session on the new ISTEM program at Idaho, one that was attended by team leaders as well as NSF program officers.
Other keynote speakers included recent Guggenheim awardee Dr. Joseph Gone, Algonquin Anishinaabe Dr. Lynn Gehl whose methodology article flew off the table like hotcakes, and dignitaries such as Peirce Hammond, Former Acting Director of the Office of Indian Education in the U.S. Department of Education and Dr. Jody Chase of the National Science Foundation. Scheduled keynote presenter Frank Finley wasn’t able to make his address due to scheduling problems (concurrent sessions were new this year and posed a few unforeseen problems), but he’ll be recording his presentation so you can find it later on this webpage. Be sure to watch for it!
The meeting was organized most ably by Lori Lambert and her fantastic SKC team: Co Carew, Carol Baldwin, Mary Big Bow, Frank Finley, Virgil Braverock, and Regina Sievert (who organized the poster sessions!). Frank Tyro took photographs (all but one of the ones you see on this page) and videotaped the sessions, with additional videotaping performed by Roy Bigcrane on Saturday. Dr. Tod Shockey analyzed the evaluations from 2013 and will do the same for 2014. Everyone on the SKC team is especially grateful for the unsung hard work of Hayward Coe, Grants Manager, SKC, and of Mike Bigcrane and his maintenance crew.
Fantastic meals served on the SKC campus included full breakfasts, lunches, and snacks prepared by Cheri’s Kitchen, Cheri Houle owner. The banquet Friday night at the KwaTaqNuk Resort was prepared and organized by the hotel’s Event staff and proved to be a welcomed addition to the meeting agenda.
We want to give a big shout-out to the funders who made this wonderful meeting possible! Funding provided by Montana State University INBRE Foundation (a program supported by National Institutes of Health); Salish Kootenai College Social Work Department; and EPSCoR Alaska allowed the meeting participants to register free of charge. We especially thank Emily Salois, MSW, and Dr. Allen Harmsen and Dr. Ann Bertagnolli of INBRE for providing the major funds that allowed this conference to happen. Finally, a special thanks to “Superman” Ed Galindo for all his help in securing funds for this meeting.
Tod Shockey told us at the meeting’s close about the experience he had while analyzing the data from assessments of the 2013 meeting last year. Over and over, he said, he read the comments about how life-changing the meeting had been and groaned to himself aloud: “I can’t believe I missed this meeting!” Be sure you don’t miss out next year! Watch the 2015 meeting page for announcements as we sign up plenary speakers and start preparing for yet another unique event that is life-affirming, career-enhancing, and “coming home to myself at last!”
The meeting closed with a round dance and many hugs. Celebrations of life, unity, solidarity, and joy continued in small groups Saturday evening as people went out to dinner to share one last story, ask one more question, tell one more thing about a research project, and take a lingering last drink at the source of inspiration that is the American Indigenous Research Association annual meeting.
Remember you can join AIRA at no charge, just by filling out and submitting the form on this page.
See you in 2015!